By Sam McPherson
The first week of the 2016 baseball season is in the books, and it’s been a wild week with weather postponements and some major injuries to potential fantasy stars. That’s usually the most difficult challenge in fantasy baseball: navigating through injury decisions for your roster.
First, you have to assess the severity of the injury. If the player is going to be out for three months or more, you might as well drop them from your roster. Even if you have a disabled-list spot available, you probably will need it for another player with a short-term injury (i.e., simply out for the minimum 15 days or so). Besides, when a player returns from a long injury absence, he is usually rusty and unproductive at first.
Thus, deciding which injured players to cut and which to keep becomes an emotional challenge. The idea of some other owner in the league profiting later in the season from your early impatience is a common sour note every fantasy-team owner experiences.
You just have to make the best injury judgment you can depending on your roster’s needs and what players are available on the waiver wire. There’s no magic formula for these dilemmas, and that’s what makes fantasy baseball so much fun, of course.
Players to Get Onto Your Roster Now
1. Brock Holt, UTL, Boston Red Sox: He’s a younger version of Ben Zobrist, basically, with lots of position eligibility. Don’t expect him to keep hitting .400 this season, but Holt should be able to help most lineups in the fantasy baseball world. The Red Sox like him a lot, so you can consider that an endorsement for the plate appearances to come this season.
2. Aaron Sanchez, SP, Toronto Blue Jays: The 23-year-old hurler may have finally arrived, and you want to get on this train before anyone else in your league does. Sanchez should get you plenty of strikeouts and wins with the lineup behind him. He looked fantastic in his first start of the season last week.
3. Chris Tillman, SP, Baltimore Orioles: He is 27 now, but Tillman had a rough season last year (4.99 ERA, 1.39 WHIP). However, from 2012-14, he was a pretty solid option in fantasy baseball. Tillman threw the ball well in his first start of the season, so perhaps he is back to his prior form. Grab him.
4. Luke Gregerson, RP, Houston Astros: After Ken Giles struggled early, the Astros went to Gregerson for two saves in the first week. Expect Giles to eventually get the job back, because he is a K machine. Gregerson is not, and his results are often mixed. However, for now, it’s a great chance to pick up some cheap saves.
Players to Sit/Drop This Week
1. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Chicago Cubs: That gruesome injury will stick in our minds for quite some time, so there’s no need to go watch it again on YouTube since you probably picked Schwarber in the first five rounds of your draft. Just let him go and find a replacement quickly.
2. Tyson Ross, SP, San Diego Padres: His one start was an ugly one, and now Ross is on the shelf with shoulder problems. Those are never good things, and for such a small guy, his velocity has probably taken its toll on that joint. He’s out “indefinitely” right now, which could mean weeks or months. Stash him for now on your bench or DL, but keep an eye on the developments down the line.
3. Ben Revere, OF, Washington Nationals: Speed is generally the toughest stat category to manage, and if you drafted Revere thinking he was your ace in the hole here, his oblique injury has derailed that plan. Like Ross, there’s no timetable for his return yet, so keep him rostered but watch for developments. In the meantime, snag whatever speed you can off waivers.
4. Billy Butler, DH, Oakland Athletics: Despite his hefty contract, Butler looks like he’s on the short side of a platoon situation in Oakland right now. That isn’t good for your counting statistics, and if the A’s aren’t forcing themselves to play their $11.67 million guy, you shouldn’t feel like you have to keep him, either. There are a lot of better hitters on waivers out there.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.